On Tuesday, Russia announced its plan to withdraw some troops from the Ukraine border.
Background: For weeks, Russia has been mounting troops on the border of Ukraine, threatening to invade. Recent reports estimate Russia has accrued approximately 130,000 troops near the border.
Russia has threatened to invade its neighbor unless Vladimir Putin is given assurances that Ukraine will not be admitted to the European Union (EU) or The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the future.
On Monday, the United States announced the decision to close its embassy in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and relocate diplomatic operations 340 miles west to Lviv.
Also on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zalenskyy said he believes Russia will invade this week.
“We are told that February 16 will be the day of attack. We will make it a union day,” he said. “The decree has already been signed. This [Wednesday] afternoon, we will hang national flags, put on blue-yellow ribbons, and show the world our unity.” (per Fox News)
What Happened: Russia’s defense ministry said on Tuesday that it is pulling back some troops from the border with Ukraine once they have completed their exercises.
“We’ve always said the troops will return to their bases after the exercises are over. This is the case this time as well,” Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin.
What Ukraine Says: Ukrainian officials remain skeptical.
Russia constantly makes various statements,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, according to The Associated Press. “That’s why we have the rule: We won’t believe when we hear, we’ll believe when we see. When we see troops pulling out, we’ll believe in de-escalation.” (per The Hill)
What Russia Says: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reportedly said that country’s drills were held “on its own territory and according to its own plans, they start, go on and end as planned” no matter “who thinks what and who gets hysterical about it, who is deploying real informational terrorism.” (per The Hill)
Details: It’s not clear how many Russian troops will be pulled from the Ukraine border.